Live Review: William The Conqueror, The Betsey Trotwood, London – 3rd May 2023

Photo: J. Aird

We’re down in the cellars at The Betsey Trotwood, rather than the venue room, for a ram-packed album launch gig by William the Conqueror (Ruarri Joseph, Naomi Holmes and Harry Harding). The small lower-side rooms did little to add to the venue size since pretty much everyone – fans of the band, the occasional PR, top-flight rock journalists and the band’s cameraman –  were trying to get into the open space before a small stage on which the band was precariously perched. Busy enough that “you can’t stand there, man, that’s my monitor” would become Joseph’s mantra for the night.  It was a warm and loud arrangement that showcased a band happy to be out again post-pandemic, despite the occasional jokey snipe at each other.

Photo: J. Aird

The new album is ‘Excuse Me While I Vanish‘ and continues in the same vein of articulate rock – Ruarri Joseph recently wrote a semi-autobiographical novel – and he brings the same style of densely packed verbiage to his songwriting and focuses in on scenes and events as if drawn from life.  Which they may well be.  With the core three-piece version of the band with no additional instruments filling out the sound, the songs are punchy – all bass lines and often powerful drumming from Harry Harding, although he also offers up interesting drum patterns he’s riveting when he’s punching powerfully through.  New song ‘Somebody Else‘ takes a surprised look at love – that it’s lasting and Joseph’s failings haven’t been seen through yet – or if they have then they’ve been, astonishingly, accepted.  The edgy ‘The Puppet and the Puppeteer‘ approaches a more indie-rock feel, with its jagged spiky music and lyrics examining the positions of manipulated and manipulator, and why a toxic relationship endures.  Amongst older, more familiar, music ‘Thank Me Later‘ remains ridiculously catchy.

Photo: J. Aird

William the Conqueror had a few dates arranged in May for the UK, and will be heading out into Europe in late June with a more extensive UK tour in October.  Dates can be found here.

About Jonathan Aird 2727 Articles
Sure, I could climb high in a tree, or go to Skye on my holiday. I could be happy. All I really want is the excitement of first hearing The Byrds, the amazement of decades of Dylan's music, or the thrill of seeing a band like The Long Ryders live. That's not much to ask, is it?
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